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Possible alternate sentencing for caregivers

The bond between parent and child is vital to the child's proper development. Unfortunately, sometimes, the acts of a parent can  that relationship.

However, there are alternatives available to certain parents who face criminal charges. There are a few key things to understand about these programs.

Primary caregiver bill

The Primary Caregiver Bill is a form of alternative sentencing that focuses on rehabilitation rather than just punishment. To qualify, a party must meet two primary conditions:

  1. Facing non-violent charges
  2. Being a dependent's primary caregiver

Parties who qualify under the set terms may be eligible for the alternative program. The court determines the exact program aspects that parties must adhere to, but they may include several requirements:

  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • Counseling
  • Job training or educational services
  • Mandated court check-ins
  • Parenting classes

Parties must abide by the alternative sentencing's stipulations. During court check-ins, the judge may determine to lengthen, shorten or uphold the set sentencing period, depending upon the offender's progress.

Positive alternative

Tennessee ranks third in the nation for children with incarcerated parents. This bill allows the state to decrease this number while still providing rehabilitative services to help decrease the chances of offenders following the same route in the future. Rather than taking the parent away and punishing both the parent and child, alternative options allow parents to remain with their children as an incentive for the offenders to stay on the right path. As with various other alternative sentencing programs, such as those for certain DUI or drug charges, this program is not intended to let offenders off the hook, but rather present an option that helps benefit them moving forward with their lives after serving time.

Parents being able to maintain the bond with their children while repaying their debt to society can serve as a strong incentive to stay on the right path. In recognizing this fact, more states look to adopt the policy.

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